Monday, August 22, 2011


To lose Jack Layton at the height of his capacity as a person and as a political leader, is especially sad.

When Jack walked into my graduate course at York University in the early 1970s, it didn’t take me long to see that this was someone very special. The energy and the luminous intelligence were on full display, as well as his respect for others, and the joy he took in meeting people.

Through the decades, he joined every political battle with unique optimism. In municipal politics, in the fight for environmental reform, in his support for the homeless and the poor, he threw himself into what he did with the conviction that he could be on the winning side. Jack had no use for fashionable pessimism.

When he became NDP leader, he took a party that had seen better days and led it to become a force that can win the next election. His breakthrough in Quebec is historic, a transformative event in Canada’s political history.

We’ll miss Jack’s energy and his capacity to rise from setbacks and carry on. We’ll need to take those qualities to heart in the days ahead. We’ll miss you Jack.

To Olivia and the members of his family, I offer my condolences.


Filostrato said...

Such a good man, courageous and optimistic.

Very, very sad.

Jeremy said...

A very nice tribute, thank you. Jack Layton was inspiring to watch, especially as he fought an election campaign with energy and verve and joy all the while battling cancer. I admire his service and I will sincerely miss him.

Anonymous said...

With his unflagging optimism and belief in the possibility of something better, Layton has been an inspiration in fairly dark times. To borrow a line from the Irish band Hothouse Flowers, what he’s done for me, personally, is to “help me believe in the things I believe in.” So long, Jack.


Mary from the Prairies said...

One of the video clips CBC aired very early this morning was of Jack and Olivia receiving the keys to Stornoway. I am glad that they had that moment together, and also that the last letter he wrote to Canadians was on letterhead that carried his title as Official Leader of the Opposition. He was truly a man of the people and will be greatly missed.

Anonymous said...

Alas, my heart is not in the coffin with Jack.
Jack Layton took a party that had seen betters days and made it a winner. But at what expense? With Layton at the helm, the party has eschewed deficit financing and job creation programs. NDPers like to talk about courageous Tommy Douglas bring medicare to Canada. Actually, he brought medicare to Saskatchewan. Lester Pearson and a socialist by the name of Tom Kent brought it to Canada with the Canada Health Act, an act that binds all provinces. Today, when user fees threaten medicare, Layton's NDP is silent on using the act to stop them. Is there any doubt that is in deference to Quebec? If the party's success in Quebec were as transformative as you say, a leader with a truly panCanadian view would have made it clear that medicare is not solely a provincial matter.
When it comes to foreign policy, the party supports the Libyan intervention. Let's not forget that it supported the war in Afghanistan. Layton's sudden change saw him go from demanding our troops out immediately to letting them stay for 2 years. Why the change? Because the Liberals insisted on that as part of the ill-fated coalition agreement. If many Canadians now are resigned to Canada's reinvigorated role in NATO, that's in part at least thanks to Jack Layton.
Finally, the party's position on Israel-Palestine is so insipid it passed muster at an all-party scrum held by the Jewish Congress in February.
So should the party reach the Promised Land, it may find it transformed - a place of limited government an entangling NATO alliance and unwanted wars.
Ave atque vale, Jack.

John Atkins said...

To anonymous:
Your vitriol might, just might. have some weight if you had the courage to sign your name.
Our hearts do not have to be "in the coffin with Jack" to appreciate his contributions to Canadian life. They are everywhere to see on this day, reserved by most of us to honour the man, not to grind our political axes.
Totally tasteless.

Peter Brogan said...

Tasteless? What's wrong with making a sober - and critical - comment on Jack Layton's actual track record on domestic and foreign policies? It's one thing to mourn the man but let us not re-write history and neglect that many disgusting, and hardly progressive, policies Layton supported. Thanks for your post anonymous.

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